Insect netting is a very fine mesh that prevents insects and butterflies entering, and is suitable for susceptible crops in the brassica family like brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage.
Insect netting has UV protection that helps extend its life. It provides some protection against plant damage from wind rock, and has an insulating effect against cold weather.
Insect Netting Guide
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The fine mesh of insect netting stops small insects entering. When growing at home or on an allotment, plants in the brassica family are particularly affected, often suffering attack from aphids or by being eaten by caterpillars.
To be effective, the insect netting needs to be used as soon as the plants are planted. The net needs to be secure around the edges, either by securely weighing down the netting, or by burying it in the soil. We used bricks to weigh down the net, as this had the advantage of allowing easy access for weeding around the plants.
Our experience was that the brussels sprouts and broccoli plants underneath the netting grew bigger and looked healthier than uncovered crops we had grown in previous years. Aphid or caterpillar attack had never destroyed our crops, but they had affected their growth.
However, the biggest advantage of using the net came at harvesting time. In previous years our brussels sprouts were often covered in tiny flies, leading to a time consuming task in the kitchen to prepare them for cooking. Similarly with broccoli, we have experienced needing to carefully examine every head to look out for any unwanted caterpillars. Our netting protected crops were much more straight forward. We simply lifted the net, collected the harvest, and prepared them in the same way we do for shop bought vegetables.
The netting is lightweight and can be suspended on a structure of garden canes or hoops. If using canes, it is worth protecting the caps that touch the net to ensure that these do not damage the mesh.